Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.

Callate

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This is kind of what I've been saying elsewhere, though of course more eloquent and fleshed-out, so thank you.

I think Aiden Pearce gets a little too much flak, though. The writers put some work into his character to make him a little more fleshed out and his interactions a little more dynamic and believable than a lot of stoic grizzled white ciphers; the scene in the cemetery where he blames himself for his niece's death was unexpected (how many scripts would have had his sister blaming him, instead?) and a scene where someone basically calls him out on using a Batman voice as "the Vigilante" suggested to me that someone had at least given these things some thought.

It's getting a little too popular to snipe at Watch Dogs right now, in my opinion.
 

Signa

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From what I had read, this makes perfect sense to me. Just putting women in a game is far easier said than done, but Ubi are morons. Total, colossal, morons.
 

freaper

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If I got to choose whether to play as a female or male assassin, I'd choose female every time.
 

freakonaleash

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I've gotta say i'm bugged by the addition of co-op in farcry 4 AND unity. Those games should only focus on a single player experience.
 

Johkmil

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Sgt. Sykes said:
Johkmil said:
The problem is that they never justified their choice by refering to any artistic vision or merit; instead, they mismanaged the situation, making it look like they assumed their audience were idiots or that they were straight up lying.
True. But, 2 things:

1) That's the current gaming industry. Publishers/devs can't really afford to disclose anything but carefully released hype pieces approved by boards of lawyers and marketers. First, they'd be ripped the shreds anyway, no matter what reason they give, so ultimately what does it matter.

Second, we know what happens when games get a peak of the actual design process. Every tiny hint of a claim done in passing would be blown up as a promise; plus everyone is suddenly the wiser and feels they have the right to ***** about every little decision the designers make.

I'd like to see what goes in the heads of the devs, but unfortunately I have to understand why they're so closed up.

2) At the end I think their claim is true. We don't know how much work it would to make a woman playable character. Let's assume it would take 20 people one month of work to implement well from scratch to finish. That's already some $100 000 cost. Why exactly is THIS particular $100k feature more important than some other $100k feature that would need to be left out instead? You cannot put everything in one game and you need to avoid feature creep. Even a $200 mil budget is still a budget, i.e the development needs to be budgeted. Something goes in, something goes out. Just like if you buy something this month which means you can't buy something else.

The fact that so many people get worked up by this little fact of life just proves that they don't want to hear it.

Again, I can't blame the devs for not wanting to disclose the details even though I'd like to hear them.
I agree with most of what you are saying, a budget is a budget and not every game will cater to everyone. Ubisoft does not deserve all of its criticism. They decided to go with the Halo-style of co-op - essentially four of the main character in differently coloured outfits, which is all right if a bit outdated for 2014. The thing that annoys me is that when they did not defend this choice, they made an otherwise decent design decision appear like an unfortunate side effect of some lack of funding. Stick to your guns or apologize wholeheartedly, darnit; everything else seems like trying to weasel away. (And again I am putting Words of 20/20 Hindsight +3 into their mouths. It is really hard not to, even though you pointed out some good reasons to avoid doing that.)

Yet I also think of these recent controversies as something more than the PC-cries of misguided social justice warriors out for the blood of gaming as we know it*, as it might seem from the posts of the most sceptic of forum users. We have reached a point where the demographics of gamers are changing, and the old method of AAA-pandering to the lowest common (white, male) denominator is slowly becoming anacronistic. The new gaming masses are realizing how unrepresentative the gaming industry as a whole is, and as we humans usually do they are descending on a few symbolic cases - Ubisoft is a clear and present target, the entirety of gaming is a formless blob, even though it is the latter that has to change. Eventually all of this will even out, games will be made for those who desire to play them, but in the meantime there are going to be some ugly battles along the way.

*exaggerated for effect
 

CloudAtlas

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Clive Howlitzer said:
Was it really necessary for almost every single person on this site to do an article about this?
It was a big issue and if you've read enough of what they've previously written it should come as no surprise that Jim, Yatzee, Critical Miss, and Shamus care about stuff like that and would want to share their opinion. Like anyone else in the press.
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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Clive Howlitzer said:
Was it really necessary for almost every single person on this site to do an article about this?
Last I checked, pretty much only Jim and Shamus have talked about this (Critical Miss doesn't really count since it's just a comic, so of course it's going to be about whatever's topical). I don't really see how two people are "almost every single person". And even still, if they have different things to say about the matter, then yeah, I'm perfectly fine with everyone on The Escapist doing their own piece about the matter.

Case in point: Jim is largely calling-out Ubisoft for having the kind of money to be able to throw at the problem to solve it, and that their excuses are basically just that; excuses. Over-all taking a more direct media pundit approach to calling Ubisoft out. Meanwhile Shamus is looking at this from his own experience and trying to meet Ubisoft halfway by saying that it's lame that they aren't including female characters, but saying that he can understand how Assassin's Creed requires a bit more complex animations with the way that characters interact directly, or how you can climb on various ledges. Either the women would have to be built like men (basically just the male model with boobs slapped on), or they would have to do a lot of extra testing to make sure that every animation works.

At the end of the day, you can never have too many viewpoints when forming your own opinion on a matter. So as long as each article on the matter brings something new to the table, I'm all for them all talking about the same thing.
 

Karadalis

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While i agree on the exclusion of female chars being BS...

Whats this "white" argument all about? Ofcourse the dudes are white.. its france during the initial french revolution.

Having a colored assasin makes absolutely no sense there since a) why should they be involved in the countries affairs? Wheres the personal investment, at that time people of color where migrants at best and not exactly that deeply involved with the political ongoings, theres no drama to be had here. Dude comes over from the philipines and directly joins the french revolution in killing off a king he has no business of hating (yet)?

b) this is about a very important point in french history, making it not about a frenchman(or preferably a women because female assasins are more interesting from a story writing standpoint in my opinion) as a protagonist would be pretty insulting towards the french. That was THE event that everyone remembers from history class about french history... yet for political correctness sake it should atleast be a colored dude if we cant get a woman?

c) Impractical... having a black dude in a country that was whiter then cheesecake is like putting a black dude in a game thats about feudal japan being a successfull assasin there. You stick out like a sore thumb and they would simply hunt down your minority.. put a price on any information about colored people and mr super assasin would have no place left to hide or even to move around. I mean if the US of A could put all citizens with asian background into concentration camps during WW2 imagine what a monarch could do who could even care less about the rights of a minority?

The only reason i can even think of thought for not including a woman is that a woman not wearing womans clothing during that period of time would be highly suspicious. Werent there actually laws that forbade women to wear trousers? Also they would have to completly change the gameplay mechanics, dont know about you guys but i wouldnt count on a female assasin doing parcur and jumping from rooftops in a dress. The game would have needed to be much slower paced, it would be alot more cloak and dagger then what assasins creed stands for. In short it would be a completly different game requiring alot more brains and patience.

I think ubisoft is just scared that such a game would scare away the current audience and thats the reason why they dont consider a female protagonist. Then again that would mean that they actually thought longer about this issues then the two seconds that spokesperson needed to come up with that BS excuse...
 

Falterfire

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Karadalis said:
While i agree on the exclusion of female chars being BS...

Whats this "white" argument all about? Ofcourse the dudes are white.. its france during the initial french revolution.
The more coherent arguments I've seen on the subject aren't directed towards AC:Unity in particular but rather the lack of a colored protagonist among any of their big titles. Okays, so Unity can't have one because setting, but if we're using the justification that the protagonist should be a native, why is Far Cry 4's protagonist a random white kid instead of a native of the region? Why did Watch_Dogs' guy have to be a random white guy? and so on.

It's not that any one game on its own is indicative of anything bad, it's that all of Ubisoft's AAA games when taken as a group indicate a lack of diversity. And maybe each and every one of them was built around their specific protagonist, but could Ubisoft not really find a single title to greenlight for a major studio that had a protagonist that wasn't a white guy?

Callate said:
I think Aiden Pearce gets a little too much flak, though. The writers put some work into his character to make him a little more fleshed out and his interactions a little more dynamic and believable than a lot of stoic grizzled white ciphers; the scene in the cemetery where he blames himself for his niece's death was unexpected (how many scripts would have had his sister blaming him, instead?)
I haven't played Watch_Dogs specifically, but this particular example isn't a great one for proving depth of story - Having the main character blame themselves for things that went wrong in the plot is a pretty common trope [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Itsallmyfault]. Tropes aren't bad, (and all good stories are built at least in part out of them) but if you're trying to indicate a character is deep, you should probably use something that isn't so universal.
 

burningdragoon

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Karadalis said:
While i agree on the exclusion of female chars being BS...

Whats this "white" argument all about? Ofcourse the dudes are white.. its france during the initial french revolution.

c) Impractical... having a black dude in a country that was whiter then cheesecake is like putting a black dude in a game thats about feudal japan being a successfull assasin there. You stick out like a sore thumb


Stick out more or less then a dude wearing a uniform that says "I am an assassin" everywhere you go?


The only reason i can even think of thought for not including a woman is that a woman not wearing womans clothing during that period of time would be highly suspicious. Werent there actually laws that forbade women to wear trousers? Also they would have to completly change the gameplay mechanics, dont know about you guys but i wouldnt count on a female assasin doing parcur and jumping from rooftops in a dress. The game would have needed to be much slower paced, it would be alot more cloak and dagger then what assasins creed stands for. In short it would be a completly different game requiring alot more brains and patience.
Women assassins have a been a thing in AC lore (also in real life) since AC2. You specifically recruit them in ACBro, where they wear regular assassin unifroms. There's been a PC female assassin that didn't wear the uniform and sometimes wore a dress even incorporating how the different clothes made people treat you. In AC4 one of the main characters was a female assassin pretending to be a male pirate for most of the game. It's doable and has been done. There is zero excuse why they couldn't include one even if it "doesn't make sense".
 

Rad Party God

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I want Beyond Good & Evil 2, goddamit! >.<'

But yeah, Ubi is a company run by tools who steamroll their good games, in favor of more shovelware, more Tom Clancy bullshit (poor guy can't take a break even in his grave) and a new yearly Ass Creed.

For every Valiant Hearts, Rayman Origins/Legends, Beyond Good & Evil and Child of Light, we get more Rabbids, more shitty dancing games, more Ass Creed sequels and DLCs and more Tom Clancy.
 

Daaaah Whoosh

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I will agree that dealing with making female character models is a hassle, but these days it's starting to seem like it's well worth it. I'd only be a little bit annoyed if my gender wasn't represented in something I liked (Mirror's Edge and MLP being two great examples, and I was absolutely fine with the former), but that's probably only because I get to play as a white guy all the other times.

At this point in time, seeing a woman in a game is like seeing your own shadow, or your reflection in a mirror; it's awesome, it's unexpected, and it makes you stop and investigate. I still remember one time playing Halo:Reach, I got out of my Warthog to examine the first female Marine I'd ever seen in the game. I know how that sounds, but I was just so surprised to see a woman, out there with all the other boys, defending humanity and doesn't afraid of anything. I can also remember that part in Mass Effect 3 when I realized they'd not only done away with most of the nonhuman enemies, but they had no female models except for some special units. People say variety is the spice of life, and in games having both men and women makes the world feel more alive, more real, and more immersive.
 

Blood Brain Barrier

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"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.

On another note - what happened to silent protagonists? I've never played Assassin's Creed but it seems like the type of game perfect for the player to play as himself/herself. A sexless, genderless figure who speaks through the player choosing text options seems like it would suit the game perfectly. This kind of player character seems increasingly left to gaming history.
 

Kameburger

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It is a bit amusing that this argument really seems to be happening more because of what they said and how their reaction calls into question their commitment to diversity (To which they are not very committed it turns out).

If Ubisoft had just said, "that wasn't the game we made this time, but next time we'll do better to take this into consideration." Provided they actually followed through then the next Ass Creed (to borrow the brilliant abbreviation from ZP) could set them up to be in an even better position.

They made an excuse, and while people may be concerned with the inherent problem of mono-sex, mono-ethnic games, those same people are sick and tired and fed up with all the lame lack luster excuses.

they shouldn't have to apologize, maybe they made a great game, just acknowledge that Women might want to play that game, and consider them in the planning process for future titles. This is absolutely the fault of Ubisoft shortsighted planning and lack of responsibility, and has little to nothing to do with development costs and effort.
 

doomed89

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Blood Brain Barrier said:
"Ubisoft's catalog is sausagefest even by video game standards."

Yeah, but so are the history books. Isn't it some kind of central tenet of some branch or sub-branch of feminism that women are largely left out of history? (not that it needs to be - it's common sense by now). There's a consequence to that - people associate the epic adventures of assassins, princes, and knights with males. So it does make a little bit of sense to view historical adventures (constituting most of Ubisoft's catalog) like Assassin's Creed featuring a female heroine as a little bit cartoonish, less grandiose and less serious. Even if that is total nonsense from the perspective we are privileged to have now.
Will people stop defending Ubisoft for this crap. If it was because of that they could just say it was that. They pretended like it would cost to much when it would of costed next to nothing compared to the actual budget of the game. I guarantee they spent more on how the crowd moves then it would take to make a female playable character.

Honestly the real reason is probably because they didn't think about it at the time but the reasons for that go into the problems within ubisoft.
 

Sylocat

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Karadalis said:
Having a colored assasin makes absolutely no sense there since a) why should they be involved in the countries affairs? Wheres the personal investment, at that time people of color where migrants at best and not exactly that deeply involved with the political ongoings, theres no drama to be had here. Dude comes over from the philipines and directly joins the french revolution in killing off a king he has no business of hating (yet)?
Ahem... [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Belley]

c) Impractical... having a black dude in a country that was whiter then cheesecake is like putting a black dude in a game thats about feudal japan being a successfull assasin there. You stick out like a sore thumb and they would simply hunt down your minority.. put a price on any information about colored people and mr super assasin would have no place left to hide or even to move around. I mean if the US of A could put all citizens with asian background into concentration camps during WW2 imagine what a monarch could do who could even care less about the rights of a minority?
France was not "whiter than cheesecake" during the French Revolution, or indeed, anytime throughout the last thousand years or so [http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/].

The only reason i can even think of thought for not including a woman is that a woman not wearing womans clothing during that period of time would be highly suspicious.
More suspicious than being dressed in that assassin robe in public?

Werent there actually laws that forbade women to wear trousers?
Fun fact: That law was actually put in place to stop women from wearing the pantalons that were popularized by the French revolution [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_wearing_trousers_in_the_Western_world_after_1900#France]. Which means that enough women were wearing them around that time that the government felt they had to be outlawed.

Also they would have to completly change the gameplay mechanics, dont know about you guys but i wouldnt count on a female assasin doing parcur and jumping from rooftops in a dress. The game would have needed to be much slower paced, it would be alot more cloak and dagger then what assasins creed stands for.
I thought assassination was all about cloak and dagger.